Tagged With postpartum depression

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After his third daughter arrived, Matt Villano was trying to keep his career afloat while helping his wife manage her emotional transition to becoming a mum of three when he suddenly found himself “completely underwater.” For the 42-year-old freelance writer in Sonoma County, California, it felt difficult to even get a full breath. “Everything was upside down,” he says.

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Almost all parents worry about the health and safety of their newborn children. In fact, we're evolutionarily programmed to scan our environments for any potential threat to the little life we are now charged with preserving. You might worry that your child will stop breathing in the night. That a car might leap onto the footpath and mow down you and your stroller. Or, even, that you could do something to harm your new baby, like drown her during those awkward newborn sponge baths.

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The day after I had my second baby, the paediatric resident came around and offered to give him one of his vaccinations. "Will it make him cry?" I asked, and when she said maybe, I told her no way, I would totally fall apart if he cried at that particular moment. She looked at the totally placid baby, and me, sitting calmly in the recliner, shrugged, and told me to get it the following week. I sure we looked fine, but it was tenuous. Freaked-out crying jags were kind of my thing right then.

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It's understandable that pregnant women focus their planning on the impending delivery: Whether it's going to be a C-section or vaginal birth, at home or in a hospital, smooth jazz or screaming. You might even have made up a detailed "birth plan", complete with instructions for pain meds; lighting preferences; and a plan for video, photos and cutting the cord.

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If you're pregnant or have a newborn, you're probably getting a lot of advice! What infant straightjacket is best for swaddling, what "drowsy but awake" looks like, why "sleep regression" might be a term invented just to mess with you. Here's another piece of advice that may or may not make you feel better: Exercise during pregnancy and in the few months after delivery can help ward off postpartum depression. It even reduces depression among women who aren't depressed enough to meet the PPD diagnostic criteria.